There are always those basketball figures that you see around Frankfurt gym´s like the Fraport arena or the BCM which is the training facility of the Fraport Skyliners and home court of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors where the basketball junkies will know them by name or the less informed that will recognize the person by appearance, but not necessarily know what their names are. Some of these people are Hans Beth who has coached teams like Hanau and Mainz and is known as maker of the Basketball Aid international tournaments of the last years or a Igor Starcevic who seems to commute between Frankfurt and Langen gyms as much as Quantez Robertson did last season watching his buddy Martinis Woody play and is head coach of the Fraport Skyliners U-14 team. Another guy who belonged to this group was Steven Clauss. He has been in the coaching business since 30 years and had gigs in Bamberg and in Ludwigsburg over the years as well as for the German basketball federation and was a mainstay in the Frankfurt organization as well assisting under Murat Didin and helping build up the youth program. Clauss was a guy that one saw frequently in the Fraport arena in the last years checking out games and young Germans. In the last two years, he got back into coaching as last season he came in as a fireman for the struggling Hanau White Wings program totally turning that program around and leading them into the playoffs where they lost a hard fought three game series to Rostock. It was a pity that he wasn´t able to lead the Hebeisen White Wings in the Pro A this season, but they did get a good guy in Simon Cote. This season, the services of Clauss have been needed again in Dresden and once again he has rushed in with his red suit and fire hat and so far has done a remarkable job registering a 2-1 record as there is a new spirit and hope within the team as they are marching closer to the playoffs. Clauss returned home to an old stomping ground and witnessed as his club the Dresden Titans give a great battle, but just couldn´t get over the hump in crunch time allowing the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to grind out an ugly 90-86 victory. After the contest, Clauss was disappointed about the loss, but also understood that the game was another stepping stone in their goal towards reaching the playoffs. “It was nice to be back. I like coming here. We gave it our all. We rebounded poorly in the first half allowing 11 offensive rebounds, but only two in the second half. We had our chances at the end, but Frankfurt deserved to win. We had some bad turnovers at the end that we can´t allow to happen at that stage of the game. It was unfortunate that we couldn´t turn the game around. Frankfurt when they are complete are without a doubt the best team in the Pro B. Our goal is to make the playoffs. This was a good test for us and will help us for the coming games”, stressed Dresden Titans head coach Steven Clauss. It was the second win in a row for the Fraport Skyliners as they are on playoff course, but were lucky to come away with the win even if their big strength free throws didn´t let them down in crunch time. “Dresden played a great game and never gave up, but we made some bad decisions at the end and let them hang around. We know that we can make free throws and had the guys on the court to make them”, added Fraport Skyliners Juniors head coach Eric Detlev. “We got a nice lead and got too comfortable and they made a push, but we made our free throws at the end”, stressed Travis Thompson.
The Dresden Titans got off smoking getting off to a quick 4-0 lead as Oregon native David Sturner made a pretty old school hook shot and ex MBC guard Philipp Liesser made a tip in off his own miss. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors reacted with a 5-0 run as Lithuanian Tomas Dimsa started off where he left off last weekend against Wurzburg stroking home a bomb and then snuck a back door pass to German Tim Oldenburg for the 5-4 advantage. Then both teams traded the lead seven times in the first quarter as Alaska native Travis Thompson nailed home a three pointer while ex MBC forward Walter Simon found Sturner inside as Dresden led 8-7. Frankfurt then retook the lead as Thompson was finding his rhythm early netting a trey while Paderborn native Niklas Kiel scored inside as Frankfurt led 12-10. Frankfurt set the tone early getting a jump on the offensive boards while Dresden was on their way to dominating the points in the paint 40-17 as they got most of their offense there instead of from downtown. Ex Leipzig 207cm center Max Von Der Wippel scored inside and Liesser scored on his biggest strength the penetration cutting the Frankfurt lead to 15-14. After Dimsa snuck inside using his overwhelming athleticism scoring on the reverse layup, it was Ohio native Randal Holt giving Dresden the lead back at 18-17 scoring inside and draining free throws. The Fraport Skyliner however retrieved the lead back ending the first quarter on a 7-0 run. In the run, they were fortified by 35 year old Marius Nolte who´s game never looks pretty, but he doesn´t stop until the mission is complete as he made a reverse lay up and scored on the fast break while Dimsa hit another three pointer. Despite seven lead changes, the Fraport Skyliners led 24-18 after the first frame. “Both teams were playing hard and giving a great effort. We had some turnovers which led to easy buckets for Dresden. We were shooting the ball at a high percentage and did a good job getting out on transition and getting easy baskets”, stressed Fraport Skyliners guard Jordan Theodore. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 30% from outside while Dresden Titans were shooting 44% from the field and 0% from outside. Frankfurt had the 12-7 rebound edge while Frankfurt had one turnover and Dresden had two turnovers.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors led by as much as 11 points, but the Dresden Titans cut the lead to 50-43 at halftime as Frankfurt couldn´t slam the door on them as they hung around like a dog does around the dinner table not leaving until every last piece of food has been devoured. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to execute their offense at a high level taking a 31-20 lead as Thompson continued to be parked at the three point line and just fire away making another trey while Kiel hit free throws and Stefan Ilzhoefer made a jumper. The Dresden Titans then found some spark on offense as they scored five unanswered points through Randal Holt making a pull up jumper and David Sturner making a left handed lay in cutting the Frankfurt advantage to 31-25. However the Frankfurt offense was just a little more consistent and they also were able to make big shots whenever Dresden tried to threaten. Frankfurt proceeded to go on a 9-4 run to extend their lead to 40-29. In the run, Frankfurt got instant offense again from Thompson dropping a three pointer and Kiel using his big stature to score inside twice. With the size of Kiel, all that Max Merz needs to do is throw the ball up near the rim and the German big man twin tower will do the rest. One of the reasons why Frankfurt could have the lead was the many second chances that they were getting through offensive rebounds. Randal Holt who averaged 19 points a game with Weissenhorn as a rookie last season and managed to drop 36 points against Magdeburg was vital in the stretch run of the second quarter as he scored eight points in the comeback including two three pointers. Simon and Liesser also contributed on offense. After a Holt three pointer cut the Frankfurt lead to 47-43, it was Ilzhoefer that gave the club a little more breathing room making a three pointer in the last seconds. “Frankfurt did a good job rebounding and getting those extra shots. Frankfurt was simply deeper and that showed. Thompson was big as he can shoot. If you don´t watch out, it´s lights out”, stressed ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 47% from the field and 33% from the three point line while the Dresden Titans were shooting 53% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the huge 22-11 rebound edge and both teams had five turnovers a piece.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners really took control and extended their lead to as much as 15 points as Dresden was unable to control the Frankfurt offense, but also not take advantage of their growing mistakes. Despite two back to back three pointers from Thompson, that didn´t faze Dresden as they continued to do what they do best which is score near the paint as Liesser did and then set up Von Der Wippel on the pick and roll for the easy basket as Frankfurt still led 56-47. Dresden continued to supply pressure on offense going on a 6-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 58-53. Simon connected on a pull up jumper and made free throws while Holt scored inside after getting his own rebound. However Frankfurt then totally turned the game around making a pretty Dresden comeback look like nothing as they closed out the third quarter riding a 12-4 run to lead 70-57. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners used their many offensive options and just executed while Dresden produced too many turnovers being careless in their execution. Frankfurt got production on offense from Dimsa and Ilzhoefer who reached the free throw line, a timely three pointer from quiet Garai Zeeb who has been suffering a bit with his offensive input since the return of Merz nailed a big three pointer which was followed by a Ilzhoefer trey and thunderous one handed dunk from Dimsa on the fast break as Frankfurt caught Dresden napping on transition defense. Liesser was able to nail a buzzer beater three pointer to make the 70-57 lead not as bad. “We did a better job moving the ball, continued to hit three pointers and got good stops on defense”, said Fraport Skyliners Juniors guard Travis Thompson. “Frankfurt did a good job spreading out their offense and passing out of the pick and roll and finding their shooters”, added ex Kent State guard Randal Holt. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 47% from the field and 38% from the parking lot while the Dresden Titans were shooting 44% from the field and 23% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 31-21 rebound edge and 11 turnovers while Dresden had 10 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Dresden Titans continued to fight and still conserved enough energy late to make one final push, but the Frankfurt free throw consistency did them in. Holt and Lenny Okeke traded three pointers at the start of the fourth quarter. At the 6,43 mark, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had suffered their fifth team fouling putting the Dresden Titans into the bonus. Dresden went on a 5-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 73-67 as Liesser nailed free throws and Von Der Wippel made a pretty high rainbow jumper that could have come from the repertoire of German national player Johannes Voigtmann. Dresden was taking advantage of the sloppy Frankfurt offense getting back into the game and heightening their aggressiveness on the defensive end as added hands in passing lanes led to deflections and easy buckets and getting to the free throw line also helped. However Frankfurt also did a fine job getting to the free throw line as Oldenburg and Kiel supplied points and Ilzhoefer made a jumper extending the Frankfurt advantage to 78-67. Dresden then started their last push going on a nasty 10-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 80-77. In the run, Dresden got support from their sturdy guard play of Holt and Liesser. Holt continued to be aggressive making free throws and two lay in´s including one on a steal and coast to coast jaunt cutting the Frankfurt lead to two points. Lieser also scored and let his playmaking do the talking. With a few minutes to go, Frankfurt played the free throw game where you either hit your shots or possibly go home as the loser. Frankfurt was always able to keep a four point cushion making their free throws with Merz, Kiel, Nolte and Thompson, while Dresden got buckets from close range speculating on a missed free throws instead of trying a three pointer. Dresden got clutch baskets from Liesser and Holt, but it wasn´t enough as Frankfurt kept their composure and nerves from the free throw line. “We felt comfortable at the end and had the experience factor as well. We kept our nerves and executed when we had”, expressed Travis Thompson. “We didn´t execute well enough at the end and Frankfurt made clutch free throws. You have to credit Frankfurt for making tough shots and free throws all night long”, said Randal Holt. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Travis Thompson with 19 points. Niklas Kiel added 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Tomas Dimsa contributed 14 points, five rebounds and six assists while Stefan Ilzhoefer added 11 points. The Dresden Titans were led by Randal Holt with 29 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Philipp Liesser contributed 25 points while David Sturner chipped in with 11 points and Walter Simon with 10 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 45% from the field and 38% from outside while the Dresden Titans shot 48% from the field and 29% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 36-29, but had 18 turnovers while Dresden coughed up the ball 15 times.